Go-To Stir Fry Sauce

Here’s how to make stir fry sauce that will become your go-to! It’s just 6 ingredients and has the best balance of flavors and silky texture.

Stir fry sauce

Want to make a killer stir fry? Look no further. Here’s your new Go-To Stir Fry Sauce! Stir fries are often listed as a concept for an “easy dinner” where you can just throw together whatever you have and make a quick sauce on the fly. But often when Alex and I try this method, the sauce either totally evaporates or isn’t flavorful at all. Behold: the best stir fry sauce! This one has a fantastic blend of flavors that’s savory, tangy and sweet, and it has just the right silky texture when you add it to the pan. Problem solved.

The six ingredients in this stir fry sauce

A stir fry is a concept like potato salad: there are a million ways to make it and everyone’s mom has their best version. There’s no exact way to make a stir fry sauce, but what you do want is this: a great balance of umami (savory) flavor, with tangy and sweet notes to balance it, and a lightly thick texture so that it coats all the vegetables. All you need is 6 ingredients (plus water), so this sauce is ultra simple. Hopefully you have it all in your pantry! The ingredients for this stir fry sauce are:

  • Soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos; see below)
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Miso
  • Cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • Garlic powder
  • Water

This makes it a vegan and oil free stir fry sauce as well! Let’s talk through a few of the more unique ingredients in this sauce…

Tofu stir fry

What is miso? Should I stock it in my fridge?

Well, the answer to the second question is yes! You should most definitely stock miso in your refrigerator. Miso is a Japanese fermented soybean paste that’s full of nutrients and savory flavor. It’s the very definition of umami, which is the so-called fifth flavor which is savory. It’s the flavor that makes meat and cheese taste so satisfying.

You can find miso at most major grocery stores near the other Japanese ingredients. There are many different types of miso, all with different flavors: red, yellow, and brown. There are also many brands of miso. Each type and brand of miso has a slightly different flavor. We used yellow miso for this stir fry sauce and it tasted fantastic.

More miso recipes? Try Vegan Pesto or Miso Ramen.

Two substitutes for soy sauce

In this stir fry sauce we used regular soy sauce. We typically use regular soy sauce instead of low sodium, because you want your sauce to fully season the stir fry. Soy sauce is not gluten free and is full of soy, so what if you avoid these ingredients? There are two great substitutes for soy sauce:

  • Tamari (gluten-free): Tamari is also made from soy: it’s specifically a Japanese type of soy sauce. The biggest difference between soy sauce vs tamari is that tamari contains little to no wheat. Check the label to make sure! In terms of flavor, tamari is slightly less salty than soy sauce, so you may need to use a little more to taste.
  • Coconut aminos (gluten free and soy free): Working around a soy allergy? No problem. Coconut aminos contains no soy and has a very similar flavor to soy sauce. Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio, but it’s slightly less salty to you may need to add a little salt to taste.
Stir fry

How to use this stir fry sauce in a stir fry

This stir fry sauce works very well in a stir fry: you’ll just need to know a few things before you add it!

  • The quantity works for a 4 serving stir fry. It coats all the vegetables and protein, but doesn’t have lots of excess.
  • Add the sauce AFTER the veggies are done: turn off the heat! Here’s the important part. Cook all the veggies, then turn off the heat. Then add the sauce, and stir until it thickens. If you add the sauce to the hot pan, it will all evaporate, leaving no silky sauce left behind.

Make a basic stir fry with this sauce

You can make a basic stir fry with this oil free stir fry sauce, using the following principles! Here’s a list of the cooking times for basic stir fry vegetables and proteins.

Proteins: cook them in advance

  • Tofu
  • Shrimp
  • Cashews
  • Edamame (cook 3 to 5 minutes, below)

Add the protein at the end when all the vegetables are cooked.

Vegetables that take 6 to 7 minutes to stir fry:

Vegetables that take 3 to 5 minutes to stir fry:

  • Cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Snap peas
  • Bok choy, chopped
  • Zucchini or summer squash
  • Edamame, frozen and shelled

Vegetables that take 1 minute to stir fry:

  • Garlic, minced
  • Ginger, minced
  • Green onion, thinly sliced (or use as a garnish)
How to make stir fry sauce

This stir fry sauce recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, oil free, and gluten-free (see substitutes above).

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Stir fry sauce

Go-To Stir Fry Sauce


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: Enough for a 4 serving stir fry
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make stir fry sauce that will become your go-to! It’s just 6 ingredients and has the best balance of flavors and silky texture.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Whisk together all ingredients until a smooth sauce forms. Store in a covered container until using, or use immediately.
  2. To add to a stir fry, use with a 4-serving stir fry like Tofu Stir Fry or Cauliflower Stir Fry. Cook all the vegetables, then turn off the heat and add the sauce, stirring until it thickens.

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Asian inspired

Keywords: Stir fry sauce, best stir fry sauce, oil free stir fry sauce, vegan stir fry sauce

More stir fry recipes

Here are a few more of our favorite stir fry recipes:

  • Go-To Tofu Stir Fry A go-to for healthy plant based dinners! It’s got the best stir fry sauce, and you can use any veggies.
  • Easy Stir Fry Vegetables Full of colorful veggies and an easy sauce that makes them taste irresistible! Add rice and a protein and you’ve got dinner.
  • Teriyaki Vegetable Stir Fry This stir fry vegetables with homemade teriyaki sauce is a favorite tasty and easy vegetarian recipe.
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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